As much as we would like them to, L&D budgets don’t stretch infinitely. As a result, value is often a hot topic in L&D circles. Getting the most bang for your buck is crucial to maximising the impact of your learning content. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. How do you know if you’re really getting value from a learning content provider?
Of course, price is a factor, but the true value of a learning provider goes deeper than surface-level costs. There are many different types of value depending on your organisation’s goals and your learners’ needs.
To help optimise the value of your L&D strategy, we’ll look at techniques to assess L&D’s value, before exploring ways to evaluate different learning providers, and answering the question on everyone’s lips: how can I get more out of my L&D budget?
Depending on your learners’ needs, there are many ways to assess L&D’s value. For starters, price is always a factor. Therefore, it is a good idea to consider a range of options to ensure you are getting the best value for money. However, there are other important criteria when assessing L&D’s value.
In recent months, we have discussed learning value vs business value extensively. According to Learning Strategy Expert Michelle Ockers, “L&D continues to struggle to create value. One significant reason for this is that L&D has focussed on the wrong kind of value – learning value rather than business value.”
If you need a quick refresher, learning value focuses on principles such as activity, engagement, usefulness, and efficiency of learning, whereas business value relates to things such as performance and culture. Put simply, focussing on business value means aligning L&D with broader organisational goals and objectives.
Focussing on business value over learning value is an excellent way to ensure you receive maximum value from a learning content provider. Emerald Works’ 2020 Back to the Future Report highlights the benefits of prioritising business value over learning value, finding that only 28% of L&D teams say their people appreciate the value of learning to the business.
In contrast, this figure skyrockets to 81% among high-impact learning cultures, defined as the top 10% of surveyed respondents. In other words, the most successful and impactful L&D teams prioritise business value and reap the rewards.
Emerald Works’ 2020 Back to the Future Report offers several key insights into how L&D teams view their value. For example, only 55% of learners feel their contribution is valued by their organisation. If nearly half of your learners don’t feel appreciated, it’s safe to say you are not getting the best value out of your learning strategy.
Further, only 32% of L&D teams say their managers recognise the value of on-the-job learning (88% among high-impact learning cultures). Perhaps most notably, just 28% of L&D teams say they deliver “greater value for money” compared to 55% of high-impact learning cultures.
Evaluating different learning providers can be a challenging process. How can you be certain one will provide more value than another? Your first step should be to analyse your learners’ needs. After all, it’s no good settling on a learning provider if their content doesn’t align with your learners’ goals. For further insights on assessing your learners’ needs, check out our articles on what the modern learner needs and how to assess employee training needs.
Once you have a solid understanding of what your learners need, there are several other important considerations. Does the learning provider offer a high-quality after-sales service? Are you prepared to manage several contracts and relationships with multiple providers, or would a centralised learning library be more suitable? Are you getting the best value for money? How will you get internal buy-in?
This last point can be particularly tricky. As we know, 40% of organisations still feel executive buy-in is missing from their L&D strategies, with Go1’s 2020 State of Learning Report calling executive buy-in “the final hurdle” for L&D teams. Adopting a business value mindset can help, demonstrating L&D’s value to the organisation in a way that encourages executive buy-in.
Ultimately, evaluating different learning providers is a balancing act. It is crucial to find an appropriate balance between value for money, fulfilling your learners’ needs, and meeting broader organisational goals.
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For more information on weighing up different learning providers, be sure to read our article on how to evaluate online learning programs, or to get more out of your digital learning budget, check out 5 essentials to maximise your L&D budget in 2021.